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Great employees: Businesses honored for hiring disabled people at Orangeburg event

Times & Democrat - 5/17/2024

May 17—The Greater Orangeburg Area Mayor's Committee on Employment for People with Disabilities is honoring businesses for employing people with disabilities and enriching their lives.

The committee held its awards ceremony on May 8 at Cornerstone Community Church in partnership with the Orangeburg Rotary Club — Morning.

Among those recognized at the ceremony were:

The Orangeburg County YMCA, 2024 Small Employer of the Year

Lake Marion Golf Course, 2024 Medium Employer of the Year

Edisto High School, 2024 Large Employer of the Year

Special recognition was also given to Tykwante Taylor as the Employment Achievement Award winner.

Orangeburg County Disabilities and Special Needs Board Director Jimmie Boland praised a partnership with the S.C. Vocational Rehabilitation Department'sOrangeburg office.

Voc Rehab worked with all of this year's award winners to help create employment opportunities for disabled people.

"They're a tremendous organization, a service organization that's built on seizing those opportunities out in the community for those individuals they serve," Boland said.

Taylor, a custodian at Bamberg-Ehrhardt High School, said he's thankful for his employment opportunity.

He spent his summer in Voc Rehab's Job Readiness Training program after completing high school.

After finishing that program, he was accepted into the office's janitorial training program. Once he received his certificate of completion from that program, he was eventually offered a full-time job with the high school's custodial staff.

"Probably the biggest thing I can say about Tykwante is he really takes pride in everything he does. ... I think the school is blessed to have him, and I think he's blessed to have Bamberg-Ehrhardt (High School) at the same time," said Freddie Bowen, area supervisor for Voc Rehab'sOrangeburg office.

Machelle Jackson, a transition job coach at Voc Rehab'sOrangeburg office, presented Orangeburg County YMCA Executive Director Jennifer Ballew with the Small Employer of the Year award.

"We simply go out and work with high school and college-age students to help them gain employment. ... When I say the Y with Jennifer has been more than welcome to bend over backwards to help us with anything to help our students be successful, they have," Jackson said.

Kitty Bamberg, business development specialist at Voc Rehab'sOrangeburg Office, presented Santee Cooper Golf Marketing Director Teet Breland with the Medium Employer of the Year award.

Lake Marion Golf Course has allowed Voc Rehab to place its consumers in work-based learning experiences, internships and job tryouts in the past few years, even directly hiring some of them.

"They come to all of our events when we're doing hiring events with other state agencies, trying to find work for employable people. ... They are a great supporter of the community, and we're honored to have her and the Lake Marion Golf Course," she said.

Breland said, "Thank you, Kitty, for being so easy to work with and for helping us out. She's been a blessing in getting us great employees."

April Smalls, a counselor at Voc Rehab'sOrangeburg office, says she takes pride in helping Edisto High School with the employment of people with disabilities. She presented Principal Dr. Kemeka Johnson with the school's Large Employer of the Year award during the ceremony.

"Edisto High School has had an outstanding relationship with Vocational Rehabilitation for many years. Led by Dr. Johnson and her dedicated staff, the school offered numerous work-based learning experiences. The ongoing collaboration between VR and Edisto High School is a great example of mutual support and growth through the development of referrals," Smalls said.

"This year, there are 11 work-based learning experiences taking place at Edisto High School in various areas," including custodian and library assistant, she said.

Dr. Eddie Glenn Bryant and Dr. Shirley Madison, co-chairpersons of the Greater Orangeburg Area Mayor's Committee, presented Boland with tokens of appreciation at the end of the program to mark his retirement from the OCDSNB after more than 20 years of service.

"Jimmie and his boss at the time, Ron Loft, were the first two people to come on board when the Mayor's Committee was started back in 2007. They helped us lay the foundation for what you're saying today. We're just forever grateful for Jimmie," Bryant said.

Contact the writer: dgleaton@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5534. Follow "Good News with Gleaton" on Twitter at @DionneTandD

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